Whilst manufacturers are forever trying to find ways to make Speakers more efficient, sound better and look different. The most difficult task must be making them easier to transport. For mobile DJs, this latter point is one of incredible importance. With this in mind, mobile DJs will be very interested in Denon DJ’s first foray into the world of professional audio, The Axis Series.
A new speaker series may not be what one associates with Denon DJ, usually known for its CD players, DJ mixers, DJ controllers and accessories. But, having been acquired by inMusic, of Numark, M-Audio & Alto fame, the brand seems ready to expand. inMusic has a good history with Alto speakers, which offer great value pound-for-pound, so there’s no reason why Denon DJ shouldn’t follow suit with the higher-end Axis Series.
The new series comprises of three products – the Axis 8, Axis 12 and Axis 12S. The Axis 8 and 12 are both two-way coaxial speakers – with 8” and 12” drivers, respectively – while the Axis 12S is a 12” powered subwoofer.
The speakers themselves look great with the Denon DJ engineers going for a modern look with clean lines, gentle curves, a matt black finish and black grilles. Behind the metal front grille, a discreetly illuminated blue LED shines. The most striking aspect of the two top enclosures is their shape. Rather than the traditional rectangular front, they are square.
Both the Axis 12 and Axis 8 make use of a coaxial driver, with the tweeter mounted in front of the woofer on the same axis; this enables a better quality of sound from a more compact unit. Where this technology is common in professional studio monitors it isn’t often seen employed in portable PA systems, with maybe Mackie’s DLM series as notable exception.
The Axis 12 and 8 both feature 1000W class-D bi-amplification with precision Digital Signal Processing designed to provide a high-power but portable audio solution that is well-suited to DJs on the road.
The Combination of square cabinet design and the coaxial driver configuration, make the Axis 12 speakers surprisingly compact, one could probably stack one on top of the other in the back of your hatchback. Easy to pack, easy to stack, this system really caters for the needs of the mobile DJ.
The speakers are easy to lift and move around thanks to their low weight, the tops weigh 16.99kg, while the sub is 21.26kg significantly lighter than most similar models on the market. The recessed handles also help balance the weight distribution when carrying the speakers.
The tweeter is centrally located on the bass/mid speaker which helps create a more even dispersion of transmitted frequencies.
Having a dimension of 423 x 388 x 365 mm, they are certainly not large units, especially when one considers the specified amplifier output of 1000 watts (RMS) average performance. They can handle short bursts of up to 2000 watts (peak) which is huge! The frequency response is quoted at 45 Hz to 20 kHz.
It is also possible to operate two Axis speakers one above the other:
The units feature recessed commercial flanged bushes for 35 mm high stand pipes and a solid carrying handle on the top, there are also receiving rings for stacking the speakers.
The rear I/O connector panel features XLR combo jacks and RCA inputs, a thru jack passes the audio signal on to another box. One can choose whether only input 1 is output to this jack or a mix of channels 1 and 2.
The Axis 12 has, if you like, a mini-mixing section from the 2 channels; it also features the ability to have a microphone connected directly. There is no master volume controller present; one would be required to adjust both channels manually, increasing or decreasing the volume on the individual channels.
The subwoofer Denon DJ Axis 12S is unusually light for a 12-inch powered Subwoofer, it only weighs just under 22kg. The subwoofers amplifier output is identical to the full-range parts, the operating frequency range bottoms out at around 35Hz and, according to published specifications, tops out at 200Hz. The crossover frequency can be selected in two stages between 80 Hz and 140 Hz, whereby for the smaller for Axis 12 and its sister model, the Axis 8, the 140 Hz setting applies.
Signal connections on the 12S sub are exclusively XLR. There are two inputs and four outputs: two are full-range and used to send the signal to another speaker or for a second subwoofer, while two high-pass outputs feed signal to the Axis 12 or Axis 8, which then operate as a pure midrange and tweeter combination.
Testing the 12 Denon DJ Axis in full range mode without a subwoofer is a Joy!
Their sound far exceeds their size SO much sound from such small boxes! Without a sub? I’ve not yet heard a 12-inch full range model, in this price range, that sounds so full-bodied.
Nothing in the sound is exaggerated and even the intrusion of the limiter function is barely detectable; even at very high volumes, the Axis 12 shows no sign of abating. Also impressive, is the dynamic behaviour of the unit, it sounds always extremely vibrant. Whether playing rock, Hip hop, jazz or orchestral genres.
There is an EQ switch on the unit that allows the sound to be adjusted between "Flat" and "boost" modes. The boost mode sounds very pleasant at quieter (lounge) listening levels, and provides a good amount of detail for such a high powered system. The fans in the system are very silent and do not interfere with the sound or signal.
In the case of the subwoofer the Denon DJ Axis 12S, when this is added to the system, you get extremely dynamic rendering of all the frequencies; however, the louder the sub is turned up, the softer and plumper the sound becomes. Although the sub itself sounds wonderful and has a clearly defined punch, it’s very powerful and high volume subwoofer use on this system can render the sound a little too soft for some tastes. It sounds unbelievably solid for such a compact unit, it sounded best to me with the sub driven only to about 40% when used in conjunction with the Axis 12 full range units this prevented the sub from becoming too overpowering. There is a fat bottom end without the sub losing dynamic vitality. The rasterized central position of the volume control on the sub is definitely an adequate amount of bass. The basic sound with the sub is definitely top notch.
Compared to most common PA systems for musicians, the Axis 12 in full range mode, has noticeably more dynamic bass that really hits you in the chest. This may be a deliberate property to meet the power DJs demand and expect in this regard. After testing this system, I can conclude that the Denon Axis setup is almost unrestrained in its dynamic development.
If you have the speakers positioned low (at ear level) and you stand right in front of the speaker, it is noticeably uncomfortable on the ear, a lot more unpleasant than in a conventional construction, this is probably a property of the coaxial system. The sound is like a dagger in the ear canal, similar to the large, horn-loaded systems on larger sound systems. This system should be mounted a good distance from the crown or high up so that the speakers are positioned just above the audience heads. Otherwise I fear at higher volumes…….it might hurt!
As a mobile DJs’ sound system, even without a subwoofer, the air this PA speaker system pushes is enormous and can make its case, not only at smaller events and indoors, but at outdoor events as well. Power-DJs will probably rely on the sub, but regardless the Denon DJ Axis 12 does not sound small in single mode.
As far as the musicians: Absolutely no problem, disregard the inference "DJ" brings to the Denon brand and you’ll quickly meet the quality and refinement that has underpinned the Hi-Fi brand for years, it’s still there under the huge power ratings. There are not many PA Speakers with such a wide dynamic range and yet such an absolutely noble sound.
To conclude; Despite extremely compact dimensions this system belies an impressively powerful and distortion free sound. The system just sounds massive. Signal processing is also discreet and not intrusive at all. The weight and dimensions of the system make them very suitable for mobile DJs and musicians. The subwoofer Denon DJ Axis 12S is useful in the lower frequencies but, due to the superb tuning of the Axis 12 full range speakers, they’re not mandatory.
Class D digital bi-amplification for massive power, light weight and reliability
Precision coaxial driver delivers optimized music performance in a compact enclosure
Long-excursion 12” woofer delivers deep, punchy bass and high acoustic output
Coaxially-mounted 1.75” high-frequency compression driver with 1” acoustic aperture provides extended HF response
Coaxial design reduces cabinet height by over 30% vs. conventional speakers
Coincident LF/HF driver mounting ensures time/phase coherent output
Uniform horizontal and vertical dispersion delivers optimum sound coverage
Internal DSP controls speaker’s internal 5-band parametric EQ
Includes: standard pole-mount threaded insert, built-in handles
Specifications Axis 8
Specifications Axis 12
Axis 12S Specifications
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